Identifying the split-step as a ‘movement where the athlete momentarily stops’ … stops! … in modern tennis ?! Agree or disagree, as educators/coaches we must constantly look at the changes in our game and adapt one of the forgotten essentials (footwork) to match and the split-step is one area of change.
Agree with the player getting back to a ‘ready’ position but evidence of players standing /moving (anticipating) like on a mini trampoline is more beneficial and as modern players now react by footwork first (outside leg) – racquet a very quick second, momentum is vital.
Further evidence is on return of serve where players are bouncing (light like boxing) on the balls of their feet and reacting as mentioned by a side step/jump rather than a split step and lunge which is very restrictive.
Players are non-stop movers with balance the key on recovery and take off to another ball. This then translates into the forward movement to the net to volley (major reason modern players avoid this play is that they get passed and are not close enough to the net due to the split-step hesitation … and are lost) and the introduction of a side step (quick change of direction off one foot – as other sports implement) and a running volley. Thus a change to the volley action to more of a ‘catch’ in front and open body ala baseball, cricket, netball, basketball and hands closer together with the action a minimum of two steps not one lunge and not able to recover quickly enough.
The volley will make a return and leading academies around the world are bringing it back, but it must be modified, as explained above to cope with modern day hitting – remembering that time taken away from your opponent is the focus of winning points, then the volley is one of the best methods to utilize.